Thursday, November 23, 2017

Jozy Altidore to miss World Cup game against Portugal


SAO PAULO, Brazil — Forward Jozy Altidore will miss Sunday's game against Portugal because of the strained left hamstring sustained against Ghana, U.S. officials said Thursday.

"We're extremely bummed for him and the team," midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. "But we bring 23 players, so this is just a chance for somebody to step up."

U.S. officials said they hope Altidore, who has 23 international goals in 71 games, can return during the tournament but gave no definitive answer.

Coach Juergen Klinsmann didn't say how he will be replaced. Aron Johannsson entered Monday but rarely touched the ball.

Another possibility is starting five midfielders behind lone striker Clint Dempsey.

That could provide two benefits.

First, Graham Zusi and Brad Davis, the top candidates as the extra midfielder, are more versatile than Johannsson and Chris Wondolowski, the other option at forward. Second, packing the center of the field could help slow down Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, the reigning world player of the year.

Beckerman and midfielder Jermaine Jones were coy.

"I don't know," Beckerman said. "We'll see, I guess."

Said Jones: "I don't know what the coach will do … or what formation he will play."

The other forwards: Johannsson, 23, was born in Mobile, Ala., and grew up in Iceland. He scored 26 goals last season for AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands and has two goals in nine international games.

Wondolowski, 31, led MLS with 18 goals in 2010 and 27 in 2012 and tied for lead with 16 in 2011. He has five goals in nine games this season and five in 21 international games.

"Wondo is more the finisher in the box," Jones said. "Aron is more the guy who's good with the ball and tries to go one against one."

No protection: Dempsey, who sustained a broken nose against Ghana, said he probably won't wear a mask Sunday.

Stat of the day: The Americans completed just 66 percent of their passes against Ghana. Only Algeria (2-1 loss to Belgium) and Iran (0-0 against Nigeria) did worse during their opening games.


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